SEVERAL thousand visitors packed Ballycarry on Saturday for the 19th annual Broadisland Gathering, and the organisers say that the turnout was the largest to date.
Early indications from a visitor survey are that people from as far away as Donegal, Armagh, Fermanagh and Londonderry as well as US, English and Scottish tourists were among those who attended the event.
“We believe that this has been the best attended event in the 19 years of the Gathering and the feedback we received from people was very positive,” said festival director Dr. David Hume.
The village street was thronged with visitors from near and far, including a coach party of 50 from Donegal, and by the time the pageant parade took place the Main Street was lined with spectators, some four deep in places.
The Downtown Radio roadshow and a children’s fun village at the post office amenity green were among the new looks for the event, while a wide variety of entertainment including the Broadisland Scottish Dancers, who were performing for the first time in public, musical groups, bands, dancers and storytellers were among the line up.
The main parade was led by Broughshane and District Pipe Band and included three pipe bands, two accordion bands, two fife and drum bands and a silver band, while a cavalcade of vintage and military vehicles was also a big attraction.
The festival director said that the support of the Ulster Scots Agency, Department of Foreign Affairs and Larne Borough Council had been essential to the success of the event.
“I would also like to thank all the Gathering committee members and volunteers for their support and commitment to delivering a first class family festival, without their dedication this event could not be a success.
“The support of our Friends of Broadisland and local business sponsors is also deeply appreciated” he said.
Among those stepping out in the main parade to emphasis Ulster American links were Arthur Miskelly as Mark Twain (Ballynure ancestors) and Robyn Haslett as astronaut Neil Armstrong (Fermanagh).